There’s a scene in “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) by Mel Gibson, which demonstrates how an unusual approach may transform any story, even one as well known as a passage from the New Testament, into something startling and fresh.
Mary Magdalene is on her knees mopping up Jesus’ blood from the stone-paved ground with a shroud when she stops. She searches her memory, and we witness what she recalls.
The view is at ground level, and it is out of focus. There appears to be a menacing mob of bearded men holding large rocks in their hands, when, just in front of us, a sandaled foot stomps the ground, kicking up dust.
We next look at the scene from above and we see this is Christ; and it looks as if a divine power has descended upon him from the sky forcing him to crouch down.
We are back on the ground, and we see Christ bend forward and with a finger almost cut a line in the sand and begin to write something. Before the dust can settle, we see the large hooded figures in the background drop their heavy white stones and walk away, annoyed by this gesture.
Jesus stands up defiantly and slowly shuts his eyes, as if searching inside himself for the strength and patience necessary to forgive them. He slowly turns to his left and looks down. Again, from ground level, we see a bloody hand emerging from a torn sleeve stretching out to grasp Jesus’ foot. That is when we see Mary Magdalene’s bruised and bloody face come into view. Only then do we realise she was about to be stoned to death, and Jesus has just saved her.
Jesus does not speak.
He does not need to.
His actions are eloquent.
He stomps the ground to show he is making a stand.
He does not draw a line - he SCRAPES it into the ground, using his finger as a blade.
This is a physical boundary - cross it at your peril.
There is no ambiguity about Jesus’ message – this is as far as it goes!
There are other details of the scene, which are also intriguing. The stone-throwing crowd does not wear rags; they are mostly rich men. They are also older men we presume; they all have long beards and seem to be pretty stocky. The stones they hold are as large as their hands, if not larger. They are marble white and look as if they are extremely heavy. When they drop them, dust clouds shoot high above the ground. They are not there to punish. They are there to carry out a legal murder.
But not today.
Not on His Watch.